Published: October 19th 2009October 18th 2009
The Salt Flats (Uyuni)
Our next outing was to the salt flats of Uyuni in South West Bolivia which are the largest of their kind in the world. We were scheduled for a leisurely 10.30 start only to be told the night before that planned strike action by truck drivers meant we needed to leave at 7 to try and avoid the blockade on the edge of town. After an hour or so driving in the jeep over the flats we reached the bizarrely named ´Fish Island´, which is a rocky, cactus covered island in the middle of the flats. Certainly no where near any fish. The first event of note was that a combination of the blinding white ground, bright sunshine and altitude meant I was severely sunburnt by 9.30am. Lunch was some fairly well cooked llama much to Valentina´s disappointment. She made a tentative attempt but most of it ended up on my plate.
In the afternoon we headed for our accommodation which was situated on the edge of the flats. The building sat halfway up a rocky hill and as we approached it soon became apparent that this was basic even for our already low standards on parts of this trip.
We were in fact going to be sleeping in a building made of salt, on beds made of salt. Fortunately there were mattresses not made of salt but everything else was. Sure enough not long into dinner some wag was overheard asking someone to ´pass the salt.´
We were lucky in that our group of 6 was completed by two other English couples who were finally able to understand my jokes. One of the other girls (Philippa) decided shortly after arriving in the salt hostel that she was going to take a shower. Not long in there was an attempt by someone else to enter the shower (there were no locks on anything). She managed to withstand the assault on the door only to turn around a minute later to see the assailant (with scant regard for Phillipa´s lack of clothing) peering in through the open window at her. Valentina never being all that keen on showering in such places anyway was somewhat put off by this and you´ll be surprised to hear didn't shower until La Paz.
For the rest of the trip we took in flamingo filled lakes, multi coloured lagoons and geysers amongst other things.
We spent the second night in a hostel which was equally as basic but made of more conventional materials. All six of us were in the same room and with very little to do and being quite tired we all went to bed pretty early, this and the cold weather provided our four new friends with a chance to see Valentina looking particularly attractive in Ashraff´s long johns (complete with ´Y´ front style flap).
The three days and two nights we spent on this trip has been our highlight so far. After this we headed for La Paz. Out and about exploring on our first day we bumped into a convicted drug smuggler out on day release who wanted to give us chapter and verse on his exploits. Once we´d shaken him off we found ourselves wandering down the witch´s market, here you can purchase all your mumbo jumbo needs. The llama foetuses seemed particularly popular.
The next day we went to watch the football, Bolivia were playing Brazil in a World Cup qualifier. Unfortunately Brazil had already qualified and Bolivia couldn't so the game had little significance in that sense. Still an entertaining affair with Bolivia winning
2-1. I enjoyed the football itself, Valentina did her usual of watching the fans, police, vendors even the managers but never the actual game. She was particularly amused by the curvaceous lad sat next to me.
We then left La Paz having both really enjoyed it for Lake Titicaca.
There are more photos below